Museum Development Network: Supporting Your Industrial Heritage Museum

All the roughly 600 preserved industrial heritage sites usually open to the public in England were closed on 23rd March 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. A significant number are now starting to re-open, or are preparing to re-open, from heritage railways and pumping houses, to wind and water mills. Now is a good time to remind industrial heritage site owners, and those running such sites, of the free support on offer from the Museum Development network.

This is a well-established network of regional museum support groups funded by the Arts Council and local authorities, for non-national museums. Each has its own dedicated team of advisors, and these regional museum support networks offer a range of services from grants and case studies, to events lists and training: on making your museum ready for COVID-19 return for instance. Links to the relevant regional websites are below:

Museum Develpment East Midlands: https://mdem.org.uk/news/

Museum Development North East: https://museumdevelopmentne.org.uk/

Museum Development North West: https://museumdevelopmentnorthwest.wordpress.com/

Museum Development Yorkshire: https://www.museumdevelopmentyorkshire.org.uk/

Share Museums East: http://www.sharemuseumseast.org.uk/

South East Museum Development: https://southeastmuseums.org/

South Museum Development: https://southwestmuseums.org.uk/

Supporting London Museums: https://www.museumoflondon.org.uk/supporting-london-museums

West Midlands Museum Development: https://mdwm.org.uk/

The Long Warehouse, Ironbridge, March 2020.

Historic England Guidance on Re-Opening (Industrial) Heritage Sites

The headstocks at the Lancashire Mining Museum

On the 24th June 2020 the UK Government issued advice on re-opening the Visitor Economy from the 4th July as the COVID-19 epidemic eases. This includes advice on how safe working can be implemented whilst maintaining social distancing (https://www.gov.uk/guidance/working-safely-during-coronavirus-covid-19/the-visitor-economy).

With a few notable exceptions, such as some water-powered and wind-powered flour mills, all the 600 plus protected industrial heritage sites in England traditionally open to the public were closed on the 23rd March this year. After more than three months sites as diverse as the Amberley Museum, Blue Bell Railway, Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust, and the Lancashire Mining Museum are preparing to re-open over the summer.

The Blue Bell Railway

If you are amongst the thousands of heritage sites in England preparing to reopen a heritage location to the public, including those with retail and wider visitor attractions, or you are preparing to go back to work at a historic site, Historic England has prepared this page which may be useful. Here you will find sections on:

  • guidance from the Government and other sector bodies;
  • pubs and restaurants within historic sites;
  • retail within historic buildings;
  • working safely as a heritage professional at heritage locations;
  • places of worship;
  • historic parks and gardens;
  • and industrial heritage sites

This advice should help owners and staff of historic sites, especially at the hundreds of volunteer-run industrial heritage sites in England, think through the considerations for reopening or returning to work. Please note that the considerations listed are not exhaustive and it should be also noted that they do NOT add additional requirements to the Government guidance or legislation.

COVID-19 Emergency Funding & Support Round Up: 27/04/20

Here is a round-up of the latest advice and guidance, and a reminder about funding streams, for the museum and heritage sector at the end of April 2020.

The Audience Agency COVID-19 Digital SOS (24th April) is offering one-to-one support to help build your organisation’s resilience and improve your digital effectiveness. This is part of their Culture in the Time of Corona Resource Hub.

Charity Finance Group – Coronavirus and your charity (23rd April)
have added guidance on how to manage financial difficulties, fundraising appeals and VAT deferral.

Association of Independent Museums Coronavirus resources (21st April) have a page on their website dedicated to coronavirus resources, including the Job Retention Scheme, HR and insurance advice, and an offer of online advice surgeries to support museums during the pandemic. AIM have also introduced ‘AIM Hallmarks at Home’ series of webinars for members.

The latest DCMS Museums & galleries sector coronavirus bulletin can be found here: Coronavirus bulletin 20200420 (20th April 2020)Gov.uk Find coronavirus financial support for your business
has a flow chart that will help identify what Government financial support might be available for your museum.

Cultural Sector Mindset survey
A Different View, working with AIM and Blooloop, is running a survey that aims to take the temperature on where organisations are now, and again in the future. The purpose of this is twofold:

  1. the survey will gather ‘mindset’ data to gauge the mood of organisations – and how it might change as this crisis works its way through
  2. the survey will gather information on perceived/expected impacts of the COVID closure, and how these might change the way organisations operate and shape delivery in the future. The survey should take five minutes to complete and is here